28 February 2007

"Bring Them On"

In 2005, President Bush declared:
"If we were not fighting and destroying this enemy in Iraq, they would not be idle. They would be plotting and killing Americans across the world and within our own borders. By fighting these terrorists in Iraq, Americans in uniform are defeating a direct threat to the American people."

That was after he faithfully asserted that Iraq poses a worldwide threat with its stockpiles of chemical weapons, a spoonful of which can cause catastrophic death and destruction blah blah … oh you know the rest of the story, no need to reiterate…

But what's new today is this study, “The Iraq Effect”, (contrast with “Iraq the Model”), which concluded that the war has increased terrorism sevenfold worldwide.

"The administration’s own National Intelligence Estimate on "Trends in Global Terrorism: implications for the United States," circulated within the government in April 2006 and partially declassified in October, states that "the Iraq War has become the ‘cause celebre’ for jihadists...and is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives.""

Using Pierre’s graphic depiction of the situation, what some thought would be this:Turned into this:
But don't misinterpret this, it is just a graphic display of the rise in the number of Iraqis who are turning out to greet their liberators with cheers and flowers. I'm sure Mr. Chenny will agree.

Also related: Iraq War Timeline: Lie by LieLebanese Addendum:
After they seemed freaked out yesterday by the news that the U.S. Set to Join Iran and Syria in Talks on Iraq, they (Lebanese for: they know themselves) breathed a long sigh of relief after the White House said today that there was no change in its policy towards the Islamic republic and Syria.

27 February 2007

March 24: Turn Off Day

Shut down your computer completely for twenty-four hours?!

Can you do that? (Can I?)
Try doing it as a "part of one of the biggest global experiments ever to take place on the internet".

Shutdown your computer on the 24 of March and find out if you can survive not using it for one whole day.

Anyway, whether you can or cannot, go to Shutdown Day if you would like to participate in the can/cannot survey.

Thanks nightS

26 February 2007

Lebanon: Academia, Agriculture and Construction

Let us begin this week’s roundup of the Lebanese blogosphere with non–political posts. Let us start from a post about two Lebanese salads that are used as appetizers during meals:

Skylark shows us (Fr) how to prepare Fattush and Tabboule, which are two delicious Lebanese salads that are usually found whenever Lebanese spread the table for a guest.

Now that we have satisfied our taste buds, let us move to publishing and academia. Lazarus wrote at the Lebanese Blogger Forum about “A Lost Summer: Postcards from Lebanon” which is a book that compiles quotations, written during the summer war in Lebanon, expressing the thoughts and feeling of people, Lebanese and non–Lebanese during that war:

During this summer war, many people wrote their thoughts and feelings and sent them to friends and family via emails, blogs, and text messages. After several months of work, a group of individuals have been able to compile a collection of quotations from these writings with the aim of capturing the essence of that time. The writings come from Lebanese and non-Lebanese, and were paired (in the form of postcards) with personal photographs that individuals had taken, making this book one for the people by the people.

Staying in the academic world, we have Ibn Bint Jbeil, who calls for the support of the General Union of Palestine Students at San Francisco State University. The Union is working on getting a mural, that pays tribute to the late Dr. Edward Said and to Palestinian culture, approved for their university campus.

The proposal went through committee and student government and university board and received support, but just before the final step of approval, university president Robert A. Corrigan prematurely denied the mural and placed a moratorium on all art at the San Francisco State University Student Center.

What objections did Corrigan have? He stated that the University’s policy is to allow for celebration and pride in one’s heritage and culture “expressed without hostility or denigration of another” (culture).
Please take a look at the mural proposal above, and try to find what Corrigan is referring to.

Agriculture in Lebanon is a rarely given serious consideration. Abu Ali points out the mistakes of this policy in some of his posts. In this post Abu Ali analyses the Israeli tactics of destroying the social fabric of South Lebanon by destroying its agriculture which connects people to their land and also blames the successive Lebanese governments for neglecting the development of rural areas and the welfare of the smallholder farmer everywhere in Lebanon.

The rest is here...

25 February 2007

Joseph Samaha!

It's official. I was told this afternoon but I did not believe it.
Joseph Samaha died today of a heart attack in London.

Samaha was a prominent journalist who, during his lifetime, wrote, co-founded and held administrative positions in the Lebanese news media, among them are newspapers such as as-Safir and al-Hayat.
He was the editor in chief of the newly published al-Akhbar newspaper before he death.

He will be missed.

Al Husseini and the Dream of a Public Library

Abdo Murtadda Al Husseini died yesterday in his hometown Baalbeck.
He was the owner of, as it was reported, the largest private library in the Middle East. One newspaper put the number of books at about a million. But that’s not the point.

He died yesterday without achieving his lifetime dream of converting his library into a public library.
He called upon the local authorities to undertake this project, since he could not afford the cost, but his calls fell on deaf ears. Our leaders and politicians had and still have more pressing and more important matters at hand.

A group of his friends formed a club in his honor (while he was alive) to help him preserve the collection but they couldn’t do more.

Abdo started collecting books when he was a boy. He started by selling fruit seeds and used his earnings to buy prints. Although he had to sell some of his collectables, later on, to make ends meet.

So then, was he a man with a purpose, a book addict or a bookworm?

Is there or will there ever be a public library in Baalbeck, or in any other city in Lebanon?
Does anyone know the location of Beirut’s public library?
Whatever happened to the project of converting the law school building into one?

The Edward Said Mural

Look at the mural above. Do you think that it celebrates Palestinian pride, heritage and culture and at the same time it expresses hostility and denigration of “another culture”.

The president of San Francisco State University seems to think so, and he has taken measures to that effect.

24 February 2007

A Lost Summer: Postcards from Lebanon

By Lazarus at Lebanese Blogger Forum

"During this summer war, many people wrote their thoughts and feelings and sent them to friends and family via emails, blogs, and text messages. After several months of work, a group of individuals (mainly members of a London-based organization named Lebanon United) have been able to compile a collection of quotations from these writings with the aim of capturing the essence of that time. The writings come from Lebanese and non-Lebanese, and were paired (in the form of postcards) with personal photographs that individuals had taken, making this book one for the people by the people.

A sample of this book, which has been called "A Lost Summer: Postcards from Lebanon", can be viewed with this link. For those interested in buying a copy, or if you would like more information, please contact me at lettersapart@gmail.com, and your message will be forwarded to the proper contacts.

Because of a wonderful sponsor that covered the printing costs, every dollar (or pound or lira) you spend on this will be donated in support of Lebanon."

21 February 2007

Sucked into a Black Hole

No wonder the Middle East is in deep shit.

18 February 2007

Bon appétit

Here’s an appetizer for the year of the pig.

Warning: not suitable for those with beliefs that include the Age of Aquarius.

"Lebanon is really on the front line of the struggle between extremism and responsible states. We do have a young government in the Saniora government that's under enormous pressure, principally from Syria -- "
Rice told the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs.

Lebanon: Terrorist Attack and Hariri’s Commemoration

This week's roundup for Global Voices Online:

Two years ago, on February 14, a massive terrorist explosion targeting Rafic Hariri took away his life and the lives of many others. Fast forward, two years and many dramatic incidents later, the Lebanese marked the event with a mass rally in Martyr’s Square. A day before the memorial, a tragic terrorist explosion targeted innocent civilians as two buses exploded in the village of Ain Alaq, near Bikfaya, in Mount Lebanon. Bloggers discussed these two events with posts and photos. The following are a sample of the Lebanese blogosphere’s take on the subjects:

On the Ain Alaq terrorist attack:

Pierre Tristam comments on the explosions and reminisces about his childhood experiences in this part of Lebanon:

How pitiful it all seems. How disarming of any hope for good will. How shattering of those petty old memories—the resort on the hill, the imaginary occupants and their colors within—that had managed all these years to live on unscathed. I don’t believe in the whole psychology of repressed memories. I do believe in the vengefulness of memories, once they decide, as they so often do, to seize on a contemporary event’s violence and absurdity, and recast one’s personal history accordingly.

Angry Anarchist questions how some leaders are capable of predicting these terrorist acts and asks for investigations and trials for the atrocities committed during the civil war:

What I cannot believe is not that there was a bombing — we all knew it was coming, our very own Nostradamus, Samir Geagea, “predicted” it. What I cannot believe is how some people find it in themselves to translate such a horrible act…
Speaking of the investigation and tribunal, why not investigate the systematic murder of 150,000 people (that includes Palestinians, in case some people forgot the Palestinians were people) in 15 years? Maybe that will settle once and for all the Martians vs. Lebanese issue. Oh I see, the ones calling for the international tribunal for the Hariri assassination were the same ones who carried out those massacres and killings. Oh wait, sorry, I take that back. It was the Martians.


Mustapha sees that the bombing was directed at the February 14 rally:

Regardless of who committed today’s atrocities, it is directed at tomorrow’s Christian crowd.

Hillz writes (Ar) about where he was and the reaction of those around him to the murder of R. Hariri two years ago. He goes on to reflect on how politics and the objectives of some political parties evolved, during the past two years. His depiction of what used to be and what it is now forms a surrealistic image of the country and its slogans.

Read the rest here...

On Hariri’s commemoration rally:

Skylark has a translation of the controversial parts of the speeches of Jumblat and Geagea during the rally. Skylark also suggests why there was no significant incident during the rally:

Despite the twin blasts on Tuesday morning and weeks of exacerbated tensions, no significant accidents were reported during or immediately after the rally. This was partly due to the repeated requests of many political and sectarian leaders to their supporters to restrain from acts of violence and partly to the twin barbed-wire fence interposed between the sector of square where the manifestation was staged and the sector of square where the opposition is still staging its sleep-in tent camp.

Liliane post photos and a link to a photo album of images from February 14 rally.

Read the rest here...

13 February 2007

An Act of Terror. Not a Message.

This is not a message, this is simply an act of terror.

But our ingenious/simplistic Lebanese mind will always come up with some superficial theory based on the date, time, proximity of the act, name of the owner of the donkey that happened to be passing in the nearby village, to explain that everything is directed at stopping the son of the glorious leader from taking a pee near that tree while driving home late from a twenty five bottles of beer on the wall party, or maybe it is meant to increase the already overblown popularity of some other glorious leader, or even that it is meant to get a third into action so that his sexy girl friend gets horny after seeing how strong, macho and caring he is. There you are, three theories satisfying the pro the anti and the non aligned.

But those who suffer are always the poor. Like the commuters who choose buses as a cheap means of transportation. They die. The pain is there to stay. The anxiety of this act of terror will spread and engulf the country.

The specter of Iraq will loom. What messages do the daily bombings in Iraq with their tens and hundreds of casualties have?
Early this morning, the Lebanese media confidently reported that the unforgivable blasts killed 12 civilians and injured 18. Later on we found out that the numbers were 3 dead and 20 injured. A silly commentator with a sillier politician/analyst sighed in relief that the number was less than the one reported earlier.
Silly (my self-censor is forcing me to be polite)! The act is huge, even if one person is injured!

Then another silly commentator with a sillier politician/analyst declared that in another incident, in Beirut this time, the car carrying the mufti (sunni) came under attack and insults etc from the protestors, camping in the center of the city. This, he reported, occurred as the mufti was heading to say a prayer for the late R. Hariri.
The TV broadcaster forgot to mention two things:
1- the mufti (sunni) was accompanied by the other mufti (shia) and the other sheikh akel (druze) and other religious figures.
2-
That the whole story did not happen. At least not in the way it was reported. The mufti had to clarify the issue in a statement later during the day.

Two acts of terror happened this morning. Bomb blasts and a rumor. The third is an act of silliness (I'm still being polite) committed by our pride and joy, the Lebanese media in cooperation with our political analyst/political leaders.

Something is cooking for us. Something is cooking slowly.
And we are too easy.

check these opinions on the terrorist bus bombing:
Angry Anarchist
Mustapha

Lebanon: Sectarianism and Peace Groups

The fears of sectarian strife may be the reason why a good number of bloggers wrote about sectarianism this week. However, as one may expect, bloggers do not agree on how to define or confront this issue. While some see that it is blown out of proportion, or that ignoring it may bring calamity, others think that it is a blessing and a Lebanese exceptionality. Nevertheless, many anti–sectarian youth peace groups have popped–up in Beirut in an attempt to save Lebanon from the seemingly inevitable future of a civil war or violence such as those occurring in neighboring countries in the region. Lebanese blogs touched upon these topics, and others like building or restoring bridges (literally), best photo awards, jokes and dissent in the March 14 coalition. Here is a sample of posts that I have collected:
How much do the various Lebanese groups or sects know about each other? Very little, it seems. This, according to Abu Ali is the root of hatred and even war:

A dear friend of mine told me recently: “I wish the Shi’a would start acting as true Lebanese, so that we can get on with our lives and build our nation”. I asked her what she knew about the Shi’a and about the South, and she innocently responded with a list of prejudiced stereotypes, which included a Shi’a penchant for self-flagellation. Our conversation confirmed to me again how little the Lebanese know about each other. This is not to be brushed aside lightly: ignorance breeds the fear and mistrust necessary to fuel sectarian hatred and civil wars. […]In a country in which the political system is exclusively sectarian, we grow up to be ignorant (and therefore suspicious) of each other.[I prepared] a “short” document on the Shi’a and on Jabal Amel, the mountain of the Shi’a of South Lebanon….


Sectarian and other forms of identification always takes precedant over the Lebanese identity according to Walid Moukarzil, and this, he declares, is the source of our troubles:

The trouble with the Lebanon is that there are no Lebanese in the Lebanon. The day the Lebanese arrive in Lebanon the trouble will end.

As for Sophia, sectarianism is just a cover up used to subdue and terrorize moderate and progressive voices in the Middle East:

Read the rest here...

01 February 2007

Lebanon: Violence, Paris 3 and Cluster Bombs

The past week was a violent week for Lebanon. Fighting broke out around one of the universities in Beirut between pro and anti government students. This was two days after a general strike, accompanied by riots, that was staged by the opposition. On the same day of the strike, the government, represented by the prime minister and other ministers, was taking part in an international conference to aid Lebanon in Paris (Paris 3 Conference). As a result there were many posts discussing these topics in the Lebanese Blogosphere. Most of which can not be mentioned here because of lack of space and time. I have chosen a representative sample, especially those that have not been mentioned before in a summary. In addition to the topics mentioned, there are posts on the issue of the Israeli cluster bombs leftovers from last year’s July war that are still causing casualties.

Posts about the violence:
The Arabist summarizes a lecture/analysis about the situation and the fears that the violence may escalate into a civil war:

Khoury and Traboulsi said that it is not in Hezbullah’s interest to start a
civil war, and that Hezbullah knows this; but the movement it started–which has
been using the exact same methods as last year’s “cedar revolution” to topple
the government–has now painted itself into a corner, and Hezbullah’s allies
(Syria and the party of Christian General Michel Aoun) may be pushing for a war
because they have virtually nothing to lose from it.

Dmitri Marine writes on the Blogger News Network about the same topic and does not see an imminent violent escalation of the situation:
There is a significant segment of the Lebanese population that dislikes the way
the current government is handling the country. And instead of doing things
un-democratically, through terror, the disenchanted are taking peaceful means to
voice their concerns and demands. No one can doubt that Hezbollah, a key player
in the protests, is capable of acts of terror (and ones of magnitude). After
all, it was Hezbollah that seriously challenged the reputation of the IDF this
summer. However, Hezbollah has not been violent.
Badger at Arab Links translates (from Arabic) an editorial from a local newspaper that explains why the events in Lebanon last week were an early implementation of the new strategy that Secretary Rice seems to be implementing in the Middle East. ...

Read the rest here...

Lebanon:General Strike

A general strike that was called for by the opposition brought Lebanon to a standstill today.Bloggers posted photos, video clips, analysis and updates on the strike and the activities that ensued.
MFL updates and writes about how the strike effected various places and aspects of Lebanese society.

The Opposition are differing whether this is going to be 48 hours or all week.
Nevertheless, both camps proved how they are reactionary and the workers are
facing each other. Today also proves that the demand on Hezbollah to disarm is
not logical, rather, all parties should disarm.
Blogging the Middle East posts photos of the protests and has this to say:
Yesterday I was telling a few people how the opposition will never succeed with
its pacifist attitudes and behaviour in toppling the government, and that if
they want to achieve anything, they will have to shift onto a militant stance.
Well, it seems they finally heard me. And about time that they did something
like this.
Beirut to Beltway reports on the riots during the strike:

read the rest is here...

 

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